Seven months later, I have not seen any visible effort to integrate the GOP political establishment with the grassroots conservative movement. If TeaPartiers are waiting for someone to start something, somewhere, don't hold your breath.
My initial impressions of GOP pick-ups in the 2010 Federal elections are achievable. I believe the GOP can pick up 51 seats in the House, and at least six seats in the Senate. But the clock is ticking, and two-sided arrogance, or perhaps incompetence, stands in the way.
Since the Spring of '09, the conservative movement has solidified. We need to only look at Rasmussen to see that the nation is firming up along the conservative line. The TeaPartiers can have a positive effect on elections, as shown in the NY-23 election. But unless conservatives swing into political action, governmental change will not be maximized.
While conservatives were able to effectively support the conservative candidate, Doug Hoffman, over the liberal Republican DeDe Scozzafava, they were unable to push Hoffman over the top in the special election. Why? Simply stated, it was possible for conservatives to post a win, but the effort to support Hoffman came only a few weeks before the election. Tactically, the TeaParty effort was superb, but from a strategic standpoint, it took far to long to organize behind Hoffman. By the time TeaPartiers had rallied, early voting and absentee balloting had started, and given the small margin of victory for the Democrat, those critical lost days may have cost Hoffman the election.
TeaPartiers are great at providing a last minute boost to fundraising and volunteer support. Rarely have we seen so few organizers raise more cash more quickly for a candidate. But last-minute efforts are not enough. Campaigns start months in advance of election day. Most candidate campaign staffs will start their master campaign schedule at election day and work backward to determine the master plan. It takes months, even years, to organize and run an effective campaign. The best political campaigns are (or at least should be) a thoroughly planned marketing effort. Bob McDonnell worked months to win the Virginia governor race. Wisely, McDonnell choose early to make a modern social media outreach, and was able to capture TeaParty support.
But the TeaParty movement cannot wait for candidates to seek them out. I contend that TeaPartiers do not want to wait for candidates, they to be part of the process right now. What stands in the way?
The Republican establishment has not yet embraced the TeaParty Movement in any significant way. Only a few elected officials interact with the TeaParty Movement. After speaking to a few Congressman, most are just now realizing the potential benefits of the TeaPartiers. The Congressmen are struggling on how to reach out to the TeaParties and integrate them into their campaign effort. Part of the struggle is that few, if any, sitting politicians can stand up to the withering idealogical scrutiny of these activist conservatives.
William F. Buckley's policy was that he would always support the most conservative electable candidate. He wisely recognized that idealogical purity has a place in elections, but in no means should be the only place in an election. My take is that TeaPartiers are repeating the NY-23 mistake, waiting for the perfect candidate while sniping at all others including those selected by the Republican Congressional and Senate Campaign Committees. Because of TeaParty complaints, the RCCC and RSCC have seen that supporting candidates in primaries may not be the best use of their assets, and are taking a more hands-off approach to the primaries because TeaParty leaders (if such animals exist) are constantly complaining about the candidates selected by these committees. But, as professional campaigners, it was essential for the RCCC and RSCC to get their organizations in order so they can swing into action early in the electoral process.
NEWS FLASH: 2010 election campaigns started months ago.
In Illinois, the primary election is February 2, 2010. As of this writing, there are 32 days before the election. As a new movement, it is incumbent on the TeaPartiers to get on board the train. Right here. Right now. We cannot wait for the professional GOP machine to reach out to us.
Whether we like it or not, at this moment in time, the GOP is the only game in town when it comes to providing infrastructure assets and the pool of most conservative electable candidates. Inter-TeaParty confusion and bickering is today having what may be a detrimental effect on maximizing conservative gains in 2010. I feel conservatives are spring-loaded to act, but are waiting for someone to pull the trigger.
Significant efforts are being made to plan new TeaParties across the U.S. While this should continue, local organizers should take a moment from their TeaParty planning to decide who should be supported locally. Spend some time figuring out how to support them. And then reach into the campaign with a plan on how you will support them.
The sclerotic political establishment is struggling on how to integrate you into their efforts. A local TeaParty can provide funds to your selected candidates (don't forget your local and county candidates), and more importantly you can supply volunteers. Imagine for a moment 200 TeaPartiers, instead of attending a TeaParty, instead descending on local neighborhoods, coordinated by a candidate's campaign, blanketing the precincts with door hangers. In one day, 200 people can walk a typical Chicago suburban Congressional district, while interacting with a large percentage of voters in places like shopping centers and grocery stores.
In order to be effective, the TeaParty Movement must accept a long-term strategic approach to influence the GOP. We cannot let this current election cycle pass if we want to stop the liberal assault on our freedoms. If we fail to act now, the movement may lose steam before it becomes truly influential. We must act now and support those Buckley-type electable candidates that are running hard in their primaries and November election bids. We cannot wait.
(The author of this post has given up on the TeaParty movement for this election cycle and is working for a candidate in a local county election.)